The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Analysis of Chapter 4

The story that Gatsby gives Nick about his life is almost entirely false. Although Gatsby did go to Oxford and was a decorated soldier, his wealthy family life is all a fabrication. The true nature of Gatsby's beginnings are found in chapter 6. Gatsby is compelled to lie because his whole life is a fabrication. Gatsby has cultivated an image for himself that he would like to uphold no matter what, but he does expose himself. He tells Nick that he is from the midwest but when Nick asks what part of the midwest her replies San Francisco. Gatsby has been caught off guard by the question and offers a hasty answer.

The character Meyer Wolfsheim helps shed a little light on Gatsby. Gatsby makes no attempt to hide the fact that Meyer is a criminal, yet the two are very good friends. If Gatsby keeps such close company with a man like this, one has to question the nature of how Gatsby earned his money and position.

In the beginning of the chapter Nick says that he kept a ledger of all of the people who came to Gatsby's party. Although it seems oddly placed and has nothing to do with the plot, this list offers insight into the worlds of East and West Egg. The kind of people who come from East Egg are of a more refined background, old money. Those from West Egg are people who earn money through things like the entertainment industry. Not only does the list offer an explanation of the makeup of the two Eggs it is also a description of the excessive nature of these parties. Fitzgerald wants this book to be critical of the materialism of America during this time period. The list talks of people who were wealthy and acted excessively in all that they did.